So what are ‘unhealthy boundaries’ and how do they develop?
Sometimes the maturation and individuation process is not understood and the child is not recognized as an individual. In these types of families the unmet needs of parents are the driving force. When parents become physically, verbally or emotionally abusive often it is a self-centred way to deal with stored up anger/grief from their own childhood. The child can be perceived as the ‘enemy’ and dysfunction is passed on from one generation to the next. What the children learn is that they don’t matter except where they are useful for the emotional needs of others. As they grow up in their families of origin, they lack the support they need from parents or caregivers to form a healthy sense of their own identities and individuality and may learn that to get their needs met they must get their way with others. To do this they need to intrude on the emotional boundaries of other people just as their father or mother may have done. They would have a hazy sense of their own personal boundaries- not able to properly define where they end and the other begins. Conversely, they may learn that rigid and inflexible boundaries are the way to handle their relationships with other people. They wall themselves off in their relationships as a way of protecting their emotional selves, and find it difficult to form lasting close interpersonal bonds with others in adulthood.